A conga line of bureaucrats

National laws framed by federal bodies are being forced upon local councils by the state government


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Councils say if they were to introduce all of the measures the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator wants, farmers probably couldn't afford to use saleyards anymore.

Councils say if they were to introduce all of the measures the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator wants, farmers probably couldn't afford to use saleyards anymore.

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Making local councils responsible for enforcing National Heavy Vehicle Laws could well render the livestock industry non-competitive, observers say.

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ON MONDAY a new chain of responsibility came into effect with regards to heavy vehicles across Australia.

But some in the chain are crying foul, saying they’re landed with such a burden of responsibility they’re left stranded.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, which framed the rules, says safety risks to motorists must be minimised.

It suggests “safety management systems and controls, such as business practices, training, procedures and review processes that:

  • identify, assess, evaluate, and control risk;
  • manage compliance with speed, fatigue, mass, dimension, loading and vehicle standards requirements through identified best practice;
  • involve regular reporting, including to executive officers;
  • document or record actions taken to manage safety.

The NHVR says overweight heavy vehicles operating from saleyards pose a safety risk for motorists.

“All parties in the heavy vehicle supply chain around saleyards have a responsibility to ensure systems are in place to minimise the risk of non-compliance and any risks for motorists,” a spokesman for the body said.

Australia has this incredible ability to set regulations that render industries non-competitive. - Rod Gribble

The spokesman said the NHVR has discussed the matter with RMS and local councils. 

But councils, already burdened with enforcing onerous laws set at state and federal levels, say the weight of responsibility is beyond their capabilities without rendering major industries non-competitive because of increased costs.

Australian Custom Harvesters president Rod Gribble whose organisation has consulted with NHVR for many years laments that a code of practice meant to ease the burden of red tape for moving oversize vehicles across the country – floated since 2016 – is yet to be finalised as it was intended.

“Australia has this incredible ability to set regulations that render industries non-competitive, the US and Canada went down this road and then, seeing the consequences, said ‘enough is enough, we need commonsense to prevail’,” he said.

Mr Gribble said government agencies cast responsibility back and forth between themselves to such an extent any level-headed person gave up.

Forbes Shire Council general manager Steve Loane - who finds himself personally liable in this chain should an accident be traced back to a systemic “failure” of regulations RMS maintains is council’s responsibility – questions the personal immunity of an RMS officer who issues an overweight infringement notice to a truck driver, but then lets them go on their way.

Mr Loane believes the major share of responsibility has been laid squarely on council because it is an easy target.

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